Science in Christian Perspective



Putting Things in Perspective
Wilbur Bullock, Editor

From: PSCF 39 (September 1987): 125

The theme of the ASA Annual Meeting at Houghton College in 1986 was "The Nature of Humanity," for which David Myers of Hope College was the keynote speaker. For our lead article of this issue we have the written text of one of his lectures. Professor Myers compares the image of human nature as derived from contemporary social psychology with that derived from Christian theology. He notes that from both perspectives truth is best approximated by complementary propositions. Thus in psychology: attitudes influence behavior, but attitudes also follow behavior; in Christian theology: faith is a source of action, and faith is a consequence of action.

David Lindberg and Ronald Numbers analyze the popular notion of the perpetual warfare between science and Christianity and emphasize that such a notion is not historically accurate. While the two camps have certainly not always been allies, their interaction has been complex, and therefore unpopular with those who want to simplify the relationship to a friend/foe or villain/victim scenario. Some of the recent attacks on ASA's "Teaching Science in a Climate of Controversy 11 make it obvious that some of our fellow scientists need to do a bit more homework in the history of science, and especially in the creation /evolution controversy. I personally found much of the denunciation of the ASA-e.g. "A Slick New Packaging of Creationism" (The Science Teacher, May 1987)-to be distorted history, bad science, and misleading attempts to read between the lines on the basis of the author's own preconceived and prejudiced philosophical biases. Both scientists and Christians are supposed to be seekers of truth!

Stanley Rice, who is obviously no slick anti-evolutionist, grapples with a major theological/philosophical difficulty-the problem of evil in a world created by a just and loving God. To be sure, much of this is speculative, but in our present state of inadequate knowledge we join with job and his friends, Habbakuk, and others of the Old Testament when we ask: how can this thing be? As a biologist, Mr. Rice grapples with the unpleasant aspects of the natural world and evaluates some common Christian responses.

After psychology, history, and theodicy one would hopefully assume that there would be no problems in a nice exact science such as statistics. However, Jan Geertsema discusses some of the philosophical underpinnings of statistics, and demonstrates that even in the so-called "exact" sciences our personal biases can manifest themselves. Thus a Christian philosophy of statistics is important.

For shorter papers (Communications) we have two contributions. Ted Cable reports on original research into the status of environmental studies in Christian college curricula. He concludes that there is a significant effort to teach environmental science, and to a lesser degree, environmental ethics. William Venable discusses current "information theory" and suggests that such theory supports (although does not prove) the idea of biblical inerrancy as plausible and even probable.